Tag Archives: Bath

Best of the West – five recommendations for under fives near Bath

five under fiveWhen you have children or start looking after them, you discover an area in a way you never did before. When you move house, you get to do it all over again. I’m really enjoying seeing what this area of the West Country has to offer families. Seven months in, here are some of my favourite day trips so far in the Bath area.

The classical one – The Roman Baths
This was a no brainer and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. I first went with my mum, a historian, when I was quite a bit younger and I still remember its amazing beauty and sense of place. Years later, I’m pleased to report that Scrip really enjoyed our visit. There were children’s activities to complete but what I found particularly good were the holograms of Roman people projected into some of the baths. It really brought everything to life. The Baths are very popular, so expect crowds.

The one for small children – Ugly Bugs
It’s cheap and cheerful and my two love it here. Plus there are fish and chips for lunch: what’s not to love? It’s not far from us in Warmley and, while it’s not plush, it’s clean and not too crowded as they stop entry when all the tables are taken. It’s also a manageable size so you can see the children at all times (unless they refuse to move from the ball pool, as Baby D sometimes does). It suits small children age five and under. Arrive early for half price entry.

The outdoors one – Westonbirt Arboretum
We came here for Autumn colour last weekend, but still found lots of green leaves after our Indian summer. It was still lovely. The treetop walkway was a highlight as was the den building area. With a newish walker on small legs we didn’t get very far in a few hours and we only scratched the surface. Dogs are only allowed in certain areas but we seemed to see quite a few of them along the way. Entry is quite pricey – as is the food – so it could be worth looking at a year’s pass.

The local one – Dyrham Park
My cousin – who grew up near Richmond Park – wasn’t particularly excited about seeing the deer here, for obvious reasons, but they’re still pretty exotic to me and you usually spot the fallow herd on a trip to Dyrham Park. It’s very close to our new house and it’s a lovely spot – a country house (currently being renovated) enclosed by swooping hills on the entrance and with more formal gardens behind. The play area has ride-on tractors (perfect for our resident farm vehicle spotter, Baby D) and there’s a nice cafe.

The Harry Potter one – Lacock Abbey
I’ve only seen one of the films (or half of one, I think) but some of Harry Potter was filmed at Lacock Abbey and you can see why they chose it. It’s a lovely, atmospheric building and it’s been a winner with Scrip on a few occasions. Downstairs is the 13th Century Abbey; upstairs is the Fox Talbot residence, which is interesting in itself but also because it was one of the birthplaces of modern photography. There are some good children’s activities, including a playground just outside, and lots for grown ups to see. Make sure you have a walk around the National Trust village, too.

A visit to The American Museum in Britain

American MuseumThe draw of the museum worksheet seems to be strong with Scrip at the moment, luckily. The American Museum in Claverton, just outside of Bath, went one better with a backpack full of activities handed over when we arrived. There are three age-related options – hers was suitable for 4+ years and she loved the little grizzly bear glove puppet who popped out when she unzipped the bag and helped us along the way.

The museum is set in an old manor house – Claverton Manor – in stunning grounds with views around the countryside and down to the River Avon. There’s plenty of parking and a good cafe on the site, plus a gift shop that sells more than just bright, unrelated plastic toys (although I’m sure there were a few of those as well). The museum charts American culture and history from early settlers to present-day with pictures, videos, hands-on displays and period rooms recreated.

The trail booklet inside the backpack guided us around the displays and there was something to do in many of the rooms along the way – ranging from a magnifying sheet to spot something close up, to a little wooden town to build, to a puzzle inspired by one of the beautiful collection of American quilts. She seemed to really enjoy it.

The trail was just the right length and left enough time and energy to have a quick look at the American Toy Story display (on until October 2016). She recognised some of the toys but the best bit was trying on toy costumes and drawing your favourite to add to the wall. Freed from his carrier Baby D seemed to enjoy crawling around here as well.

It’s a shame we hadn’t left any time for exploring the gardens as it’s in a beautiful location and I would have loved to look around. There was also a concert in the afternoon. But unfortunately nap time for D was calling and I think we may just have tired out Scrip as well.

As with anything I visit with small children I vowed to come back alone and actually read the captions of the displays as it was really interesting and a lot of it, moving. And with such a beautiful museum in a breathtaking location I think I may just make it.

More on the American Museum website.

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We’ve also visited the London Transport Museum, braved central London with a toddler and here’s my London (children’s activities) Bucket List.